The Frontal Cortex

Tooth Decay and Drugs

No, I’m not talking crystal meth, and that much hyped syndrome, methmouth. I’m talking about your cholesterol medication, or your blood pressure pills, or your Prozac. From Steven Dubner:

Dr. Reiss [Dubner’s dentist] told me that tooth decay in general, even among wealthy patients, is getting worse and worse, particularly for people in middle age and above. The reason? An increased reliance on medications for heart disease, high cholesterol, depression, etc. Many of these medications, Dr. Reiss explained, produces drymouth, which is caused by a constricted salivary flow; because saliva kills bacteria in the mouth, a lack of it means increased bacteria, which leads to increased tooth decay. Given the choice of taking these medicines versus having some tooth decay, I’m sure most people would still choose the medicines–but I am guessing that most people haven’t thought about the link between the two.


  1. #1 Dan R.
    September 29, 2006

    My dentist started having me in 3 times a year due to plaque buildup caused by some of the drugs I take daily. Apparently I shouldn’t be the only one.

  2. #2 Don S.
    January 12, 2007

    Need help with stopping serious decay and breakage after 5yrs on methodone and morphine (Avinsa) due to back surgery Thank you

  3. #3 Richmond Hill Dentist
    August 28, 2009

    Saliva helps wash away food off teeth as well as neutralizing acid produced by cavity-causing bacteria. For this reason, medications that decrease saliva will make a person more suseptible to cavities. Hello Dan Hagi.

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